Practical Theology of Divine Hiddenness: Knowability of God’s Will in Human Situation (Job 14:1)

Traditionally, the phrase “hiddenness of God” has been understood as a philosophical concept meaning “a God who intentionally hides himself” in the historical context in which a person or event takes place. In particular, the biblical basis for this phrase is the way in which people who are in hardship and adversity protested to God about the problem of evil and suffering (Isaiah 45:15, Job 13:24). J. L. Schellenberg’s work, Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason, published in 1993, called for a radical shift in this thinking and approach. Schellenberg asserted, “the weakness of our evidence for God is not a sign that God is hidden … [but] a revelation that God does not exist.” Understood in this way, the hiddenness of God is putative evidence of atheism. Schellenberg shifted the focus of the discussion of the hiddenness of God from a God-centered continuity of sovereignty to a human-centered experiential severance of human relationship with God.
The human experience-oriented approach to the hiddenness of God undermines the sovereignty of God based on Theodicy in Christianity. There is a risk of arbitrarily judging God as hidden in history through human subjective experience. It is common sense that the most basic criterion to distinguish between theism and atheism is the aseity of God in the discussion of the worldview. Even Schellenberg, who presents the hiddenness of God as the basis for atheism, is aware that there is a realm of God’s sovereignty that transcends human thought and experience. It implies that human thinking may be wrong. From the standpoint of the omniscient and omnipotent God, human thought and argument of the hiddenness of God is only a part of the illusion of judging the operation of God’s creation by human experience.
Hence, this paper addresses the hiddenness of God to the view of continuity of God’s sovereign grace and self-revelation in Theodicy, rather than the severance of relationship with God based on human-centered experience. In terms of the contextual interpretation of the Bible, the focus of the problem of God’s hiddenness lies in whether humans can know God’s existence and will, because the hiddenness of God is the hiddenness of God’s intention (Job 19:25; Isaiah 45:19). From the standpoints of Christian Theodicy and practical theology, it is necessary to acknowledge that God remains independent of his creation, even while present with and operating within the confines of that creation. Only then can we acknowledge our true faith and move forward with the right reason.

2 thoughts on “Practical Theology of Divine Hiddenness: Knowability of God’s Will in Human Situation (Job 14:1)”

  1. Divine Hiddenness
    Important. He claims the hiddenness of God a philosophical concept, but isn’t primarily a theological one?
    It seems that much has been written on theodicy and God’s hiddenness as a theological concept. This approach has some merit.

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